Students from across the Gansbaai area attended a graduation ceremony of the ‘Breaking Barriers’ coaches’ education and employability programme at the prestigious Grootbos Nature Reserve, last Thursday. Grassroots sports delivery and management charity Active Communities Network (ACN) South Africa developed Breaking Bar-riers following a successful ACN version in London and partnered with the Exercise Teachers Academy (eta) and Football Foundation of South Africa to deliver a high level vocational qualification which, through fitness workshops and classroom-based teac-hing, covered employment, skills training, education, community development, sports development and social inclusion modules. The course and subsequent qualification improves employability and self-confidence enabling graduates to return to their communities and do something positive supported by Active Communities Network and eta.
Students have been studying hard for the past six months at the Gansbaai Sports Centre, a venue which is supported by ABSA, the Overstrand Municipality, the Grootbos Foundation and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS). The Gansbaai Sports Centre is unique as it is situated in an area in the middle of three culturally diverse communities, equally accessible to all people as a ‘neutral’ space not belonging to any specific community, and serving as the perfect catalyst for social and racial integration.
1. 2013 course ran over 16 sessions from February – July. 48 students from across the Overstrand (Hawston, Mount Pleasant, Zwelihle, Stanford, Gansbaai and Napier) graduated through the programme from 2011 – 2013. Work placements at Adidas, the SA Navy, Department Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS), Western Cape Sports School, Spar, the South African Police Service and variety of schools.
2. The programme is socially and culturally integrated with an average of 50.4% from the black, 26.7% from the coloured and 22.9% from the white communities including students with physical disabilities.
The successful graduation rates of over 80% for the programme combined with high, on-going employment rates have led to global recognition of the programme from the Virgin Active Sports Awards shortlist and recognition from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Students and guests including the Chief Director of DCAS, Adv Lyndon Bouah, were welcomed by Overstrand Municipality Area Manager Kat Myburgh before hearing from Ald Pieter Scholtz, Acting Mayor of the Overstrand Municipality.
Dr. David Maralack from the Faculty of Commerce at the University of Cape Town gave an overview of forthcoming commissioned research about Breaking Barriers which is due to be published in the new year and ABSA, a member of Barclays who have supported Breaking Barriers since its inception, were represented by Corporate social Investment Manager Andrew de la Mare who talked about the importance of partnership work.
Mziyanda Matiwane, who graduated from Breaking Barriers last year, then gave an inspirational speech on how Breaking Barriers changed his life after which Paul Laemmle, Manager - Special Projects, Exercise Teachers Academy (eta) explained the programme from an academic overview.
Aubrey Stout, lecturer at eta, who taught the graduates, then handed over the coveted certificates alongside Acting Mayor Scholtz and then the ceremony, which took place in the Forest Lodge Conference Room, was concluded by Active Communities Network’s South Africa Operations Manager Leán Terblanche who thanked all those present.
Guests then enjoyed cocktails in the luxury surroundings of the Red Indigo Restaurant whilst networking and discussing the project and its employability, further education or training pathways in sport, contingency and sustainability of the project, partnerships and new projects.
Leán Terblanche, Operations Manager, Active Communities Network South Africa said:
“The graduation ceremony highlighted how Breaking Barriers has really become a great success here in Gansbaai with all 16 students on the course this year passing.
“The long term investment and support from our partners - Grootbos gave us this venue today - has been crucial to the whole project and highlights the importance of partnership working.
“Breaking Barriers uses sport to hook people in to the course, but sport alone is not enough to solve the many issues people in this area face – you have to back it up with vocational qualifications, training and self-improvement.
“The event today highlights the success of the programme but it is also a chance to give it exposure and we have used today as a platform to move discussions forward with influencers about future partnerships and funding – we want to roll this out across South Africa and are looking at areas like Cape Town, Hermanus, Paarl, East London, Soweto and even further afield across Africa.”